By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
Tim Tallbacka and his Conneaut boys feel as though their level of play as of late has not been reflected in the results. As the season comes down the final stretch, they’re hoping to get some “W’s” to match the way they have been performing.
On Tuesday night, they were able to get one with an 84-33 thumping of host Ledgemont in non-conference action.
“We’ve just been trying to establish some momentum,” Tallbacka said. “I’ve felt like we’ve played good basketball in the last month. We haven’t had as many wins to show for it as we like, but we’ve felt like we’ve played some good basketball against some good teams, and we want to try to continue that.”
The Spartans forced 33 turnovers and held the Redskins to 11-of-40 shooting (22.5 percent) in the win.
“We’ve got some offensive issues,” Ledgemont coach Greg Fronk said.
The real onslaught didn’t start until the latter part of the second quarter. With less than three minutes left before the half, Conneaut (6-12) led 29-19. But an 11-point run followed, and after Ledgemont (7-12, 5-8 in the Northeastern Athletic Conference) closed the half with a basket to go into the break down 40-21, the Spartans tacked on another 12 points for a 52-21 bulge. Eventually they bettered that streak with a 16-0 stretch that pushed it to 84-30. At that point, Conneaut had had the upper hand by a 55-19 count in a span comprising about 18 minutes. It had held the Redskins to one field goal in the second half, although Ledgemont closed the scoring with a 3-pointer after that.
“That’s what happens in games when one team starts rolling and one team is struggling,” Tallbacka said. “It’s happened to us.”
The standouts were many for the Spartans, as all but one of the 12 who played hit the scoring column, and each one grabbed a rebound. Christian Williams scored 16 points and added seven rebounds, five assists and six of his team’s 18 steals. Post Brad Ritari matched Williams’s point total with 16. Nick Blood was also a force inside, as he contributed 15 points and eight boards. Mike Mirando added 12 points.
The Spartans led on the glass, 46-30.
“We (feel) like we’re a pretty good defensive team,” Tallbacka said. “We also did a good job getting the ball to our inside people.”
Devin Rupinski led Ledgemont with 15 points and also blocked three shots. Dick Zivny had eight caroms and five blocks for the Redskins.
Ledgemont had the lead twice very early before Conneaut scored nine straight points for a 14-6 advantage,
“They played well (most of) the first half,” Tallbacka said of his opponent. “They used their size well and we ha a hard time getting it in against their zone. It got out of hand in the second half because we had some more depth and they also played (Monday) night, back-to-back.”
“In the first half, I only gave them eight points on turnovers,” Fronk said. “(But) I gave them 12 points on second shots. That’s what killed us in the first half-second shots. The second half was a totally different story.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.